Archive for March, 2012

NZ in joint US military exercise

US military aircraft are exercising in NZ this week for the first time since the 1994 Anzus impasse. A USAF C-17 and a US Marine Corps Hercules are working with the RNZAF, the RAAF and the Singapore air force on joint transport exercises. This represents a further step forward in relations between NZ and the […]

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Aust forces gain own communications satellite

Australian defence forces in the Middle East have their own communications satellite. Until now, they have had to share US satellites.

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Privacy act to be updated

The Govt’s decision to repeal and re-enact the Privacy Act 1993 following its review by the Law Commission is timely given the controversy over ACC claimant privacy breaches.

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Coalition hiccups – not yet affecting voter confidence

John Key’s coalition is falling into untidy, and potentially damaging, habits. It has lost a highly ranked Minister for an “error” of judgement and had to apologise to Finland for Gerry Brownlee’s “humour.”

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Play of the week – that Helsinki feeling

Relations between NZ and Finland hit a historic low this week and the world held its breath. Gerry Brownlee’s injudicious comments about Finland saw the two supernumerary-powers teetering on the brink of a catastrophically minor diplomatic incident.

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China representation beefed up

The Govt has moved to beef up ailing parts of its official engagement with China by appointing former Deputy PM and Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Don McKinnon to chair a new NZ China Council, and other possible members tipped are Dame Jenny Shipley, entrepreneur and NZ enthusiast Richard Yan, and Michael Stedman of film-maker Natural History […]

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Nick Smith’s resignation leaves big cabinet gaps

Nick Smith’s resignation leaves a huge hole to fill in the Cabinet. Not only are his new local Govt reforms now without the Minister who devised them, but the climate change and environment portfolios are also going begging.

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Government loses patience with MFAT reform process

Ministers have seized control of the troubled MFAT reforms. Cabinet felt Ministers had already sounded sufficient warnings, but late last week the Beehive’s 9th floor decided to move.

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Prisons: a fiscal and moral failure

Bill English’s confirmation a number of prisons need to be closed or partially closed should come as no surprise. Prisons such as Wellington’s Mount Crawford are crumbling relics sitting on prime real estate.

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NZ and US re-engage on defence

NZ and US officials have concluded some of the most sensitive and significant defence consultations since the anti nuclear stand-off in the 1980s.

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A land of opportunity for NZ

With 60m people and regime-change gathering pace in Myanmar, NZ mustn’t be left behind as nations queue up to seize opportunities there. This is the message Foreign Minister Murray McCully absorbed on his 3-day mission to the once-closed state, where the changes from where the country stood a year ago have been simply breath-taking. The […]

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PM & Shearer speeches: not massive but still significant

The mainstream media whipped itself into a frenzy this week over the PM and Labour leader David Shearer’s speeches. The speeches, though thought-provoking, were hardly blockbusters which will transform the political landscape, yet they were significant markers in the evolution of both leaders.

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Joyce gets his way with new super-Ministry

The merging of the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Department of Labour into the Ministry of Economic Development, creates a new Super-Ministry which confirms Steven Joyce in his spearhead role.

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Can MFAT’s new business model be salvaged?

When John Key kicked a major element of MFAT’s new business model into touch this week, it left questions over how much of the rest of the plan could be salvaged.

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Does foreign ownership have merit?

Labour leader David Shearer makes good points in support of his Bill. We should take care not to lose ownership of our farmland by allowing foreigners to outbid Kiwi farmers.

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Diplomatic headache intensifies for McCully

Foreign Minister Murray McCully faces an increasingly intractable problem on his return from Myanmar as MFAT CEO John Allen’s new business model is starting to unravel. MFAT partners are due to meet Allen on Monday. Partners say no one questions the need to review the Department. What vexes them has been the methodology and the […]

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Govt avoids trial of strength with industrial labour

The Govt has resisted intervention in the Ports of Auckland industrial dispute, which could have turned it into a trial of strength between it and the union movement.

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Is the political balance beginning to shift?

Political polls show the divide between the governing parties and those of the Opposition has narrowed since the election. This might not be surprising, given mainstream media have given prominence to headlines about industrial unrest, welfare reform, public service “cuts” and partial asset sales.

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NZ treads water, while other countries whiz backwards

NZ’s slide down the OECD league table has been the subject of much debate, with its per capita income inching up only slowly as compared with faster growth for countries like the onetime Celtic tiger Ireland and Greece. But now it might be a different story as some Eurozone countries teeter on the edge of […]

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Govt revenue drops, but it’s not all bad

Govt revenue streams are dropping even lower than forecast as recently as last month’s budget policy statement. But Finance Minister Bill English insists the Govt won’t over-react to what are relatively small changes in the tax take.

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Orion’s surveillance mission on anti-whalers

The Govt has ordered a P3 Orion to carry out a patrol in NZ’s southern waters after reports anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd has been refuelling in the Auckland Islands. The Sea Shepherd has been seeking to disrupt activities of Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean, but Green Party MP Gareth Hughes is contending Japanese […]

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Politics: Opponents doing most of the work for Govt

NZ’s terms of trade are at historically high levels, export volumes are running strongly, commodity prices have come off all-time highs and there’s been steady employment growth. Signs are emerging productivity is improving. But the Govt may be counting its lucky stars its opponents are doing much of the work for them.

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Finance Minister ratchets up debate on debt, asset sales

The Govt, which earlier was making heavy weather of its asset sale programme, has begun to make headway in getting its story across. English’s tactics are to force those who oppose partial asset sales to spell out how they could finance Govt programmes without excessive borrowing, and without any of the restraints on Govt spending […]

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Diplomats in uproar over cuts in salaries, allowances

It’s not surprising there are reservations at Ministerial level about MFAT’s new business model. What the Beehive sees as the “aggressive” attack on diplomatic salaries and conditions provides a sharp challenge to MFAT’s leadership team if there is not to be a wholesale departure of top talent from the Ministry.

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Economic debate – Do old workers stop youngsters working?

Older workers are often blamed for high rates of youth unemployment by not giving up their jobs to make way for youngsters. But it’s all bollocks. The call for old people to get out of the way is based on the “lump of labour” fallacy, which says there is only so much work to go […]

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